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Amcu, NUM and Gold One standoff takes another twist

‘Petition submitted by Amcu is unlawful and misleading’

Mineworkers at the Gold One mine in Springs
Mineworkers at the Gold One mine in Springs
Image: Thulani Mbele

The standoff between Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) as well as Gold One has taken another twist, after Amcu filed an urgent court application.

Amcu wants the labour court in Johannesburg to order NUM to conduct a ballot election within five days at Gold One, based in Springs, Ekurhuleni, to determine if the closed shop agreement between NUM and the company should remain valid.

The court battle comes after NUM this week gave Gold One a 30-day notice to terminate the close shop agreement which has seen NUM enjoy exclusive organisational rights at the mine since 2012.

Amcu wants the elections to be overseen by the commission for conciliation, mediation and arbitration while Gold One and NUM should be slapped with a cost order. Amcu’s general secretary Jeffrey Mphahlele said in the court documents three weeks ago that 550 employees spent three days – from October 22 to 25 underground – in protest against the company’s failure to grant organisational rights to Amcu.

At the time, the company successfully applied for an urgent court interdict at the labour court to prevent workers from going on strike regarding organisational rights.

In the latest court document, Mphahlele has included petitions with 1,300 signatures of Gold One workers.

He said since there were 1,870 workers in the closed shop agreement, this meant Amcu enjoys about 70% support of the company employees.

He said closed shop agreements were inherently oppressive and limited workers’ constitutional rights.

Mphahlele added that the dispute has resulted in workplace unrest and tensions were high, while community members also protested outside the company, burning tyres.

Bongani Dlamini, the head of legal National Union Mineworkers, said in court documents that the matter does not satisfy the requirements for urgency, saying the urgency was self-created, and the relief sought was not appropriate.

“The petition submitted by [Amcu] is unlawful, invalid, contains misinformation and is misleading. Without proper verification, the petition cannot be accepted at face value. The application is moot and/or academic because NUM has given notice of its termination of the closed shop agreement,” said Dlamini

“Clearly the volatile situation, bringing employees back to the workplace to campaign for different unions is not a sensible approach. While, at face value, [Amcu]  appears to agree that the situation must be de-escalated, it also proposes to thrust employees back into the melting pot,” .

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